What experts think will come in 2022
Even in the best of times, it is human nature to want to decode the future.
But in times of uncertainty, we are more careful to predict what’s to come. To meet this demand, thousands of forecasters openly share their views as one year ends and another begins. In hindsight, we see varying levels of success in predicting the future.
In fact, experts are only guessing what will happen over the next year. In 2020, almost no one had a pandemic in their bingo card. In 2021, the NFTs flew completely under the radar of experts, and no one saw a container ship resting in the Suez Canal in a crystal ball.
So why should we pay any attention to predictions at all? Are they, as Barry Rithholtz puts it, “wrong, random, or worse”?
First, these guesses are backed by experience and expertise, so the accompanying analysis is very informative. Perhaps most importantly, influential people and companies are in a position to shape the future with their expectations. In some cases, feelings and actions can turn a prediction into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Regardless, whether for research or purely entertainment purposes, we’ve examined hundreds of reports, interviews, and articles to see which predictions are most generally agreed. Where do experts see the ball moving next year? Our bingo card summarizes the top 25 cards, and below, we’ll look at some of the trends that could shape 2022.
Checking the skies: What is the general outlook for 2022?
Based on the hundreds of predictions we have analyzed, the general mood can be described as cautiously optimistic.
For starters, the global economy will likely continue to grow, but not at the rate it did in 2021. We compiled more than 40 forecasts from reliable sources such as the International Monetary Fund and Goldman Sachs to determine the average GDP estimates for the world, and identify the regions:
|Country/Region||Estimated average GDP|
|United States of America||4.0%|
After that, there is broad agreement that monetary policy will begin to tighten over the next 12 months. Here’s what major central banks are expected to do:
Several experts have described an era of declining stock returns and increasing volatility. Many of the problems that plagued me in 2021 have carried over into 2022.
Technological disruption continues to reshape industries, and climate change and cybersecurity issues will be front and center this year. Geopolitical tensions are also rising, now that countries have adapted to the immediate challenges posed by the pandemic.
In short, no one expects 2022 to be uneventful.
Trends that will shape 2022
Some of the predictions above are straightforward. GDP targets and explicit binary data don’t require much explanation.
Here are some of the forecasts agreed by experts that are worth looking into in more detail:
1. Geopolitical tensions will erupt
There are a number of potential hotspots around the world, but here are a few that experts are watching in 2022.
Iran: Tensions between the United States and Iran escalated after an attack on a US military base in southern Syria in the fall of 2021. Moreover, tension between Iran and Israel is likely to increase in 2022, drawing other countries in the region into conflict.
Ukraine: This is a continuation of the tensions that erupted after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and Ukraine’s position as a major gas transit hub make this situation closely monitored by experts.
Taiwan: The risk of China making a move on Taiwan has risen in experts’ minds, even though the actions may contain “more barks than stings.”
2. China’s rocky start to 2022
At the dawn of 2021, many predictions about China were largely optimistic as the country entered the recovery phase sooner than the rest of the world.
Fast forward to 2022, and predictions are to reverse polarity as China faces challenges on a number of fronts. First of all, there is pessimism about China’s COVID-free strategy, which even today sees entire cities under strict lockdown orders. This strategy has inevitable economic implications.
Second, uncertainty about energy shortages, a potential housing crisis, and regulatory repression have dampened enthusiasm for the country’s near-term prospects.
Finally, Xi Jinping rescinded presidential term limits in 2018, potentially setting himself up to lead China indefinitely. As the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China approaches later in the year, if the country remains on uncertain foundations, it may create a tense political atmosphere in Beijing.
3. The year of the worker
Work dynamics have been in the spotlight since the pandemic turned the world of work upside down. There are a number of trends emerging from this broader topic:
- The labor shortages that emerged during the pandemic will remain in place in 2022 and beyond. Certain sectors, such as cybersecurity, are facing an acute shortage of skilled labor
- There is broad consensus that the future of office work is “mixed”. Companies that do not offer flexibility will face a hindrance in attracting talent
- The internet and social media have opened up a number of career paths for individuals to earn income beyond just working for a company
- Work-life balance and burnout will be central to discussions about workplace culture
4. The changing digital ecosystem
If forecasts are any indication, we’ll hear a lot more about NFTs and Web3. There are a lot of opinions about the former, and it runs the range from prolific to bearish quite well. Whether the hype surrounding profile picture NFTs fades is anyone’s guess, but the technology has opened the door to a lot of experimentation for artists and creators.
On this note, experts are generally excited about the prospects for a burgeoning “creator economy” — an umbrella term that describes the new technology ecosystem and growing infrastructure that allows individual content creators to monetize and thrive.
Another trend that is gaining strength is e-commerce centered around social media. The ability to purchase products directly from influencers is becoming more and more popular on major social platforms, and e-commerce companies are creating more products to support influencers in their marketing endeavours.
By 2026, Gartner estimates that 60% of millennials and Generation Z consumers will prefer making purchases on social media platforms over traditional digital commerce platforms.
5. Inflation subsides slowly
Concerns about inflation have always arisen here and there, but in countries like the United States, the destructive amounts of inflation have not appeared since the 1980s.
In the past year, the novel has changed.
After trillions of dollars of stimulus and pandemic borrowing, inflation is suddenly back on the radar — and it wasn’t as “temporary” as early central bank data had hoped. Now, by 2022, experts expect higher-than-normal levels of inflation to continue.
While inflation is expected to have an impact going forward, experts also see it stabilizing (relative to 2021) as supply chain disruptions work to resolve it.
6. Another remarkable year for electric vehicles
With climate change taking over the spotlight in 2022, regulatory actions will force automakers to think about the future of their fossil fuel models.
Even as incentives are slowly tapering off in a number of markets, electric vehicle sales are expected to set new records this year. Also, electrification of fleets will be a trend that is gaining momentum.
Industrial and battery metals such as lithium and cobalt rose 477% and 208% respectively in 2021, a trend that many experts believe will extend into 2022.
Of the hundreds of sources we looked at, there were a few that were memorable and comprehensive:
- Bloomberg Predictions for 2022: This article compiled more than 500 predictions from Wall Street banks and investment firms.
- All-In Podcast Predictions for 2022: This vibrant podcast, featuring Chamath Palihapitiya, Jason Calacanis, David Sacks and David Friedberg, is always entertaining and informative. In this forecast loop, Biggest gainers and losers in business Gorgeous, as is Best performing asset.
- Eurasia Group’s Most Important Risks for 2022: This comprehensive collection of articles covers a lot of ground, and offers some very reliable predictions about what might happen on the world stage this year.
- Wood Mackenzie Predictions for 2022: Wood Mackenzie analysts provide 10 forecasts for the major developments expected in the energy and natural resources industries in 2022.
Finally, if you find our consensus prediction helpful, we’ll dig deeper into this topic in the coming weeks.
Our VC+ members have access to all Global Outlook 2022 Series, which contains a webinar and additional articles detailing the forecast for the coming year in more detail. You can learn more about that here.